okay, this is the true story of how nikolai and kelanie met. there was a knock at the door

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okay, this is the true story of how nikolai and kelanie met. there was a knock at the door. nikolai looked up from the screen of the PC that was attack-dialing `the cafe'. there was a blurry shape on the screen of the monitor that showed who was at the front door. he found the call button for the pa system, thumbed it and muttered, `what is it?' a tinny voice crackled, `gotta package for ya.' the Predator Saint (sigh)ed, got up and started climbing over piles of clothes, intermingled with power and data cables, untidy stacks of japanese comics and airbrush art, to the front door. he opened it to the limit that the security chain would allow, peered through (wincing at the first glimpse of natural light that he had seen in a week). the courier was supporting a large box made of molded white plastic, about the size and shape of a small coffin; he reached around to hold out a clipboard for nikolai to sign. `down the bottom, yeah, there.' nikolai scrawled `foghorn leghorn' in illegible cursive cyrillic (a trick he had picked up from a south american revolutionary by the name of Kilpatrick) and said, `just leave it there, okay?' the courier shifted nervously from one foot to the other and said, `waaaal, i'm s'posed ta -' he was cut off by a blood-curdling scream from nikolai's bedroom. `oh right. bye!' `hey, it's just my-' but the coward had made good his escape. `... my computer... oh well...' when he was sure that the courier had gone, he unbolted the chain, opened the door and tried to shift the case. it was heavier than it looked. he managed to get it over on its side, but refrained from tipping it over further when he saw `this side up' stamped on the top of the case. with a great deal of awkwardly-applied effort, he eventually got the case into the bedroom. he lit another incense stick, took another snort of nitrous oxide and instructed his machine to stop dialing `the cafe'. it let off another sampled scream (it was a randomly-occurring background task). `okay, what have we got here?' he picked the invoice off the front of the case. he (sigh)ed again when he read the address... it was another package for `nicola ingsley', who had lived next door for years until the neighbors, who had long suspected her of witchcraft, had dragged her from her bubblebath and burned her at the stake. he recalled that she hadn't burned very well. checking the invoice for an address, he found only `Lazar's Android Works' and an address in Mendocino, California. `well, phornication, i'm not going to send it back... le'see what we got here!' he forced the edge of a sacrificial knife into the seam that marked the edge of the case's lid, and broke some sort of air-tight seal, as it suddenly came free with a hiss and the smell of newly-minted polymers. he tossed the lid to one side, but picked it up when he saw a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk stuck to the inside. he picked it off and inserted it into his machine. `UNREADABLE DISK' `okay... mount DI0:...' `general failure reading drive A:... abort, retry, fail?' `putrefaction... it must be an atari or macintosh disk. well, in that case, it can't be very important...' he returned his attention to the case. under several layers of foam wrapping, he found: `oh my... there's a girl in my mail...' she was about sixteen, he estimated, short blonde hair, and completely naked. nikolai put his hand to her forehead; it felt flesh-like, but cold, so... `... so, either someone in california is doing a brisk trade in corpses, or...' he looked at the invoice again: ======================================= ship to: L A Z A R S A N D R O I D W O R K S nicola insgley ======================================= 121 thames promenade the *best* in digital reality chelsea 3196 order #154391754 victoria, AUST 1 x KEL (Y)-model rev 4.1 warning: do not immerse ....................$77,550.95 in hydrofluoric acid!!! `(phew)! seventy seven and a half thou! pretty expensive for a store dummy!' he touched her hand, lifted it out of the packing. the fingers moved just as a person's should. he began to have some definitely un-saintly ideas as he lifted her out of the case. he lay her face down on the bed, examining her back for a floppy disk drive slot (or even a keyhole). nothing. unless... `no, that's disgusting. Predator saints simply don't have thoughts like that.' he found a number for Lazar's support BBS in an autodialler list he got from the BananaLand Arts Irredentist Movement in 1991, so he supposed that it was still current, and called it. as it was three in the morning in california, he doubted that he'd have any trouble getting on. which he didn't, although as an unregistered user, he only had fifteen minutes to realise that there was nothing on the BBS that mentioned a `KEL, (Y) model'. with one minute left, he paged the Sysop. ** Congratulations, the Sysop has decided that you, the mere mortal are somehow worthy of the honor of personalized attention and is breaking in for a chat! hello kingsley, how can E help? > look ive just had a box delivered with a KEL (Y) model, what the > hell is it? oh, E are not familiar with that model, butter its an android, y know, simulated personality. anything else youd li  TWENTY SECONDS LEFT TODAY ke to know? > HOW DO I TURN HER ON???? what a stupid question! blow in her ear take her to a movie yll figure something out prince charming :-) C>6գT NO CARRIER `shit' he muttered, for a moment lapsing into un-saintly vulgarity. for a moment, he thought that she was watching him. he tried to see her reflection in the monitor, and then whirled around in his Hans Rudi Giger `Harkonnenstuhl'. she was still lying face down on his bed. he turned her over and sat down next to her. he turned her head to one side, noting the realistic way her neck-muscles moved. `i can see why they charge seventy-seven and a half thousand dollars for you.' feeling rather silly, he leaned down and blew softly in her ear. nothing. `hello folks? calling folks? testing, one, two, three, four? newshell from s:shell-startup?' still nothing. he admired the curve of her pale lips in profile, turned her head back to face him. his index finger brushed her lips, and on impulse, he tugged at her jaw carefully. her mouth opened, revealing a completely authentic-looking set of teeth and the tip of a pink tongue. his eyes widened in appreciation. he sat there for almost thirty seconds, holding his breath, then, with some embarrassment and self-consciousness, he bent down and brushed his lips against hers lightly. still nothing. exasperated, he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. as his tongue pressed against hers, he heard a click deep inside her, and felt a soft breath against his face. he drew back in alarm as she shuddered fitfully like a hard disk spinning up, and closed her mouth with a sound exactly like a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk being inserted into a drive. her eyes opened. they were a brilliant green colour. she regarded him blankly for a moment, then smiled slowly, which nikolai found somehow sinister. he backed away further and fell over the packing crate. when he got up, she hadn't moved. he approached her cautiously. she had closed her eyes again, but she could somehow sense his approach, because when he got within range, she leapt up, threw her arms around him and kissed him. he tried frantically to disengage, but her arms around his neck held his head securely. as the seconds passed, he realised that he couldn't breathe with this machine fastened to his face, and he renewed his struggles, to no avail. after about four minutes, his struggles began to weaken. after six minutes, they ceased entirely as he lost consciousness. kel(y) released him, covered him with a blanket and cleaned up the bedroom. -------------------------------------------------------------------- This file is Copyright (c) Nikolai Kingsley, 1995. Unlimited electronic reproduction and one hard-copy per user is permitted, for non-profit use, providing that this notice is left intact. hail eris - Fnord - all hail discordia - 93 - oops, that's my banana --------------------------------------------------------------------

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